IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

New York Prison Escape: How It Happened, and How It Ended

After 22 days of searching, investigators finally brought to a close the search for New York prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat.
Get more newsLiveon

After 22 days of searching, investigators finally brought to a close the search for Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 35, the convicted murderers who escaped a New York prison.

Matt is dead, and Sweat is in custody with gunshot wounds, while two prison workers have been charged in connection with their escape.

Here's how the story developed:

May 31

A fight involving 30 to 40 inmates at Clinton Correctional Facility leads officials to request a full lock down and search, but the request is denied, possibly denying guards the chance to uncover the escape plot.

June 6

Officials discover convicted killers Matt and Sweat are missing from their cells about 5:30 a.m. Their escape is the first from the maximum-security section of the Dannemora, New York, prison since it opened 150 years ago. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the escapees used power tools to cut holes in the backs of their cells, make their way through the innards of the prison and climb out a manhole about a block away.

June 7

At least 250 local, state and federal officials, including FBI agents and U.S. marshals set up checkpoints in the area surrounding the prison, which is less than 20 miles from the Canadian border. A $50,000 reward is offered.

June 8

Cuomo says investigators have concluded that Matt and Sweat "definitely had help" with acquiring the equipment necessary for their brazen breakout.

June 12

Joyce Mitchell, 51, an instructor in the prison tailor shop where Matt and Sweat worked, is arrested in connection with the escape. Police say she checked herself into the hospital with "a case of the nerves" the the day Matt and Sweat made their getaway. Sources say that Mitchell — who is believed to have planned to drive the getaway vehicle — and Matt developed a relationship and that Mitchell "thought it was love."

June 14

Sweat turns 35.

June 15

Mitchell appears in court briefly and waives a preliminary hearing. If convicted of the two counts against her, she could face up to eight years in prison.

Sources tell NBC News that, in addition to being charmed by Matt, Mitchell was investigated for a prior sexual incident with Sweat. At that time, there wasn't enough information to remove her from the prison or charge her, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie says.

June 16

Mitchell appears in court after having pleaded not guilty. Investigators say they're looking into the possibility that she wanted the inmates to kill her husband.

Wylie tells NBC News that the prisoners left post-it notes, markings and even some directions along their escape route in the prison.

June 18

Matt and Sweat are added to the U.S. Marshals' 15 Most Wanted Fugitives list.

June 19

The state Corrections Department says a second corrections officer, later identified as guard Gene Palmer, 57, has been placed on leave as part of the investigation.

June 23

DNA from both escapees is found at a burglarized cabin in rural Owls Head, about 20 miles from the prison.

Joyce Mitchell's husband, Lyle Mitchell, tells TODAY his wife had admitted that she gave Matt and Sweat tools to saw through their cells but then got in over her head. He says Joyce Mitchell denied she had a sexual relationship with either of them.

Wylie, the district attorney, says Joyce Mitchell smuggled the tools — hacksaw blades, drill bits and a hole punch — into the prison inside ground beef. Palmer, the other arrested prison worker, then took the meat to Matt, Wylie says. Palmer denied knowing he was delivering tools and passed a polygraph test, Wylie says.

June 24

Palmer is arrested and charged with three felonies. His attorney says Palmer "made a mistake, and he's sorry about that."

June 26

A U.S. Customs and Border patrol tactical team shoots and kills Matt in a wooded area south of the town of Malone. A 20-gauge shotgun is found near his body.

Authorities say Matt didn't fire the weapon, which is thought to have been stolen from the hunting cabin where authorities said they found Matt's DNA three days earlier.

Sweat remains on the loose. Experts say he is more dangerous now than ever.

June 27

Believing Sweat is still in the area, about 1,200 local, state and federal officials descend on the rural towns of Malone and Duane near the Canadian border.

Matt's body is transported to Albany Medical Center for an autopsy.

June 28

Sweat is shot about 3:20 p.m. ET in the town of Constable, less than two miles from the Canadian border, by a New York State Police officer. He is wounded but alive and is taken into custody.

Sgt. Jay Cook is credited with capturing Sweat. Cook encountered Sweat along a roadway and later chased him on foot, eventually shooting him twice in the torso.

Sweat is transported to Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone and later airlifted to Albany Medical Center in critical condition. His condition was later updated to serious.